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US: Nasdaq edges to record as Fed minutes signal higher rates


[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks treaded water on Wednesday, with the Nasdaq edging to a fresh record, as Federal Reserve meeting minutes showed a majority of central bankers favored soon lifting interest rates.

The Fed minutes further raised the odds that the US central bank will hike rates in December. Some members expressed concern that Wall Street's dizzying heights and record-smashing rallies could spell trouble.

Markets drifted much of the session amid low trading volumes ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. US markets are closed Thursday and open for only a half session on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.3 percent to 23,526.18, retreating from Tuesday's records.

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The broad-based S&P 500 lost 0.1 per cent at 2,597.08 while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.1 per cent to 6,867.36, to close at its second straight record.

Some retail shares rose ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend, which includes "Black Friday," the official start of holiday shopping season. Macy's, Kohl's and Williams-Sonoma all rose one percent or more.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise slumped 7.2 per cent after announcing that chief executive Meg Whitman was stepping down, to be replaced by HPE president Antonio Neri in a move that Morningstar described as "surprising." Morningstar said the company's first quarter forecast is "soft," but noted price stabilization in some key products.

Deere & Company jumped 4.3 per cent after fourth-quarter net income rose nearly 80 per cent to US$510.3 million as the farm equipment company cited strong demand in South America as a driver.

Salesforce lost 1.8 per cent after reporting that third-quarter sales jumped 25 per cent to US$2.7 billion. Analysts said the company's fourth-quarter forecasts missed expectations.